By CLAYTON GUTZMORE
These days, artists ranging from fledgling movie makers to hip-hop icons De La Soul are financing their projects through crowdsourcing platforms like Beacon and Kickstarter.
But before you ask your audience for money, you should first make sure that (a) you have an audience and (b) you’re clear about who that audience is, said Erica Anderson, director of community crowdfunding at Seed and Spark, a crowdfunding website that focuses on films. She recently hosted a workshop on how to crowdfund films at the American Black Film Festival in New York.
Knowing that your audience is not a demographic, but a variety of people with different interests is crucial when starting your campaign, Anderson said.
“You have to build the crowd before ever ask for anything,” she said. There are other things that filmmakers should think about before they start their campaigns, Anderson said, including: how much is everything I need to do this movie going to cost; and how am I going to deliver this film.”
In addition to that, Anderson also offered the following tips:
1) Find your audience: Who are the people who will watch your film? Where (terrestrially and online) are they? How do you get their email addresses?
2) Test Your Message: How do you attract a diverse group of people to your project? Finding out which message works best for each individual group that you’re trying to attract is important when raising money for your project. Use content that’s tailored to the groups you’re trying to reach.
3) Tone: Find the intersection between ‘Who You Are’ and ‘Who Are You Trying To Reach.’ In order to effectively communicate about your project with the audiences you’re trying to connect with, set the right tone. For example, ask your audience to join your project by making a contribution instead of asking for a donation directly.
4) Build a Team: Because crowdfunding is hard work and no one’s network is usually big enough to effectively grow a broad audience for a film alone, putting together a team that includes a variety of people with a variety of networks is crucial for any campaign. The more of your filmmaking team that you can get involved, the greater reach your campaign will have.
5) The Budget: When it comes to raising the funds you need for a film, ask for what you need, not what you want, and remember that building trust is as important as building an audience. You should raise enough money to be able to deliver on the promise of your pitch and your audience should know exactly what you’re doing with the money they’ve given you.
6) Incentives: Give the people what they want. The best incentives help to deepen your supporters’ engagement in your film. When creating incentives for your crowdfunding project, keep these tips in mind:
• Do you have anything that you can offer that you don’t also have to pay to have manufactured?
• Make sure that your incentives are personal, visual and sharable. For a donation of $10 to $25, you can give a funder something that can also advertise your project.
• Have first-day-only incentives. Give funders a little extra something for getting in on the ground floor of your project.
7) Pitch Video: When creating a video pitching your project, remember that you have 90 seconds before you start losing people. In fact, if the first 15 seconds aren’t compelling, they won’t watch that last 75 seconds. That first 15 seconds should be exclusively geared toward the film’s audience. A great pitch can cut through all of the competing noise and convince people to care enough about your film to join your journey.
8) Organization: When beginning your outreach for your project, start with the people that you know would possibly support your film. That should include direct outreach and updates. By providing updates to people who are already supporting you, you turn them into amplifiers, people who will talk about your project to their networks. Organization is crucial for a big launch and for maintaining momentum.
But even after you do everything you need to do to get funding to create your project, the real challenge is getting it distributed, Anderson said. “Film distribution is the process of how companies market the films and get it out to the public and it’s the goal of film crowdfunders,” she said.
If you want more information on crowdfunding for film projects, go to seedandspark.com.